Creating and exploring your family history can be an exciting and rewarding journey. It is important to keep in mind the resources that are available when doing your research.
One of those resources is Irish newspaper archives. They contain a variety of genealogical information, from obituaries to news stories.
Searching for Missing Friends
When researching Irish genealogy records online, it is important to set SMART goals. These goals should be specific, measurable, and achievable. Typical goals include:
- Finding a name or proving a relationship.
- Identifying the county of origin for Irish immigrants.
- Learning more about the conditions in Ireland when your ancestors left.
Creating a search strategy incorporating these elements can help break down brick walls and discover information you didn’t expect. For example, while most genealogists know that obituaries can provide death dates and burial sites, some researchers don’t realize that they also provide details of a person’s place of origin. This can lead you to investigate the civil registration district, county, town, village, or parish where your ancestor was born and raised.
Another great resource for overcoming genealogy roadblocks is the newspaper archive. Whether it is a collection of online Irish newspapers (subscription) or papers published in American towns with large Irish populations, these historical publications have a wealth of genealogically relevant information.
Many American newspaper archives are digitized and indexed. In addition to searching standard obituary records, you can also access searches of newspaper archives by ethnic communities such as Germans, Latinos and Irish, which will return results that wouldn’t show up in a regular search.
Exploring Places of Origin
Whether looking at 19th-century jam recipes or political debates, newspaper archives can add dimension to the story of your Irish-American ancestors. They can also help you understand the world they lived in and how their surroundings shaped their lives.
It’s easy to miss important clues about your ancestors if you don’t know their place of origin. That’s why reviewing present-day and historical maps is a good idea when researching your ancestor’s homeland.
Aside from identifying a general area, knowing the name of the smallest locality within that region can be helpful. This helps narrow down search results and cut through records that may have nothing to do with your ancestor. Fortunately, it’s easy to do this type of research using local newspapers.
Irish-American newspapers often contain much information that can help with genealogy research. For example, newspaper birth, marriage, and death announcements provide a wealth of genealogical information, including names, dates, and locations. Obituaries can reveal relatives’ occupations and comments about their character. Articles about court cases can offer clues to ancestors’ origins, such as elopements, army desertions, and business bankruptcies. Advertisements in ethnic community papers, such as the Irish World’s “Missing Friends” column, can also be useful in locating lost family members.
A good place to begin is by searching the digitized publications at the Internet Archive’s Maps, Atlases and Gazetteers category. These are great for identifying the exact location of an ancestor’s hometown and providing details about what life was like in that time and place. They can also help find other information sources, such as census records.
Many of these publications are browsable, which means you can read them by navigating the index and table of contents rather than using search engines. This is a great way to understand the collection and learn how to use the resources effectively. It is also worth considering visiting local libraries for microfilm and printed copies of these publications. Some collections are free, and others require a subscription.
Taking a Break
When your eyes are dry and sore, or you’ve been staring at your computer screen for too long, step away from genealogy. A break will give you a fresh perspective and the motivation to return with new energy.
Taking a break can also help you avoid falling into one of the most common genealogy blunders: making a mistake because of bad research. This is more common than you might think and can occur to even the most experienced genealogists.
Try searching a newspaper database for the city or state your Irish ancestors lived in to understand life during their time there better. Whether you’re looking for Irish American newspaper articles or any other kind of historical records, plenty of options are available to researchers in the United States.
Expanding Your Knowledge of History
Irish American newspapers can reveal more about your ancestors than simple name and date records. These papers can also glimpse the cultural and sociopolitical issues that shaped their lives.
By examining newspaper articles, researchers can better understand how Irish immigrants interacted with their new neighbors and the larger society in which they lived. For example, reading about housing choices, occupations entered, financial support for family members still in Ireland, and chain immigration that brought additional relatives to America can give researchers insight into the social dynamics of the community as a whole.
These papers can also help researchers to understand how the American public perceived the Irish. For instance, reading about a labor movement can show that the Irish were not as passive participants in their new home as is sometimes portrayed. For instance, stories about the Molly Maguires can give researchers a sense of Irish-American political activism’s impact on American history.